Herbert LeRoy Barker was born 9/12/1931 in Bisbee, a small farm community near the Canadian border in central North Dakota. Herb was one of six children of William and Annie (Potratz) Barker.
Because he was named after his grandfather Herbert Potratz, friends and family referred to him as LeRoy. Herb went by the name LeRoy until entering the military where you were required to use your given name.
Herb grew up in Rock Lake which is close to Bisbee. While primarily a farm community, Rock Lake is part of a National Wildlife Refuge. Herb's love for fishing and hunting was formed in Rock Lake and he traveled back home to hunt each year. He also felt much pride for Rock Lake as his grandfather PG Barker was one of the town's founders and operated a ferry to an island across Rock Lake.
Herb graduated from Rock Lake High School in 1949. In 1950, Herb joined the Air Force and served in the Korean War. Stationed in Japan, Herb worked on the airplane radios and other electronic equipment 90 miles from the Korean border. He remembers seeing the casualties brought back but also remembers Japan fondly. He stated some of the nicest people he ever met were in Japan. He was honorably discharged, Airman First Class, from the Air Force in 1954 with the following honors and medals: Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, United Nations Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal .
Herb attended and graduated from Wahpeton College of Science after serving in the Air Force. He drove cab in Fargo and worked on neighbor's farms in Rock Lake to pay for college.
Shortly after, Herb moved to Minneapolis. He started a career in the Avionics department at Honeywell, just a few blocks from Sunset Cemetery. He retired from Honeywell after 35 years of service in 1991. Herb had an intuitive sense of how things work which he used to fix electronics at work and in his leisure as he worked on puzzles such as cryptoquip and sudoko. His special knowledge of the equipment at Honeywell required him to travel occasionally to other states to assist their employees.
In Minneapolis, Herb met Cecilia Boyle (originally from Waverly, Minnesota). They married in 1963. In the nine years they were married, they had three daughters: Cheryl, Michelle and Dawn.
His approach to his battle with COPD tells us a lot about Herb. He maintained hope until almost the very end that he could return to his home in Ham Lake. He rallied through sepsis and a heart attack the doctors thought he would die from. He was very concerned that his siblings would have a tough time with him passing so close to his brother Krail (Dec. 12). In the end, he decided it was time to stop suffering and ended his fight. It was fitting that he held out until the day after his sister's birthday.
Herb was preceded in death by his parents William and Annie Barker, ex-wife Cecilia, and brother Krail. He is survived by daughters Cheryl (Dave) Tollefson of East Bethel, Michelle Barker (East Bethel) and Dawn Barker (New Brighton); grandsons Colin and Derek Tollefson; siblings Irene (Orville) Olson of Fargo, Vernon (Pat) Barker of Fargo, Melvin (Charlene) Barker of Big Lake and Marlene Spack of Elk River; and many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to give special thanks to the following caregivers who helped us along his journey: Dr. Christopher Antolak (Silver Lake Clinic); Dr. Michelle Haroldson (Cambridge Medical Center); nurse Bev (SICU, Cambridge Medical Center); Rhonda and Patience from the Respiratory Care team at Cambridge Medical Center; and Pamela, Caitlin and Ian from the nursing staff at Grace Point Crossing.